What's in Zechariah's Flying Basket?

Post Reply
User avatar
Biblegate
Posts: 159
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:07 pm

What's in Zechariah's Flying Basket?

Post by Biblegate » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:08 am

Besides visions of a Flying Scroll and of Four Chariots, chapters 5-6 of Zechariah contain the Prophet's vision of a bushel basket (holding a very small woman) being airlifted to Babylon via two winged-women.

Strange visions like that are bound to give rise to many bizarre interpretations. What does this vision mean? Behind the strange imagery (if it is that ~ some insist everything in Scripture ought to be taken literally), is there any substance behind the vision? Anything factual? Any connection to real people & events? Can anyone know what it really means? Are all guesses equally valid? What do you make of Zechariah's vision of the woman in a basket?


Here is the link to the video of Steve Gregg's teaching (2015) on Zechariah 5 & 6

https://youtu.be/IaJFFuSls8I

Image

3Resurrections
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:32 am

Re: What's in Zechariah's Flying Basket?

Post by 3Resurrections » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:29 pm

This Zechariah 5 prophecy is one of my favorites, probably because of its female imagery, and because of the whole "weird" factor that makes it a challenge to figure out. A couple years ago I made a study of it, and came to the following conclusions:

This enigmatic prophecy of Zechariah 5 was made in approximately the year 519 BC. It would be fulfilled in approximately 467 BC, in the post-exilic return after the Babylonian captivity. Ezra testified at that time around 467 BC that God had been doing a work to revive His people in those days (Ezra 9:8-9), as they labored in an on-again-off-again process through several decades to restore the house of God and the city of Jerusalem, including the final restoration of its wall.

However, there was more to this revival of the nation than just restoring the infrastructure of the city of Jerusalem. One of the major sins of the people, all the way up to those in the priesthood itself, was to have married foreign wives against the strict command of God. One of the main reasons to avoid intermarriage with foreign wives was for the Messiah to have an unbroken lineage coming from Israel's tribe of Judah, as well as to avoid the temptation to return to idolatry that intermarriage with foreign women would bring. This command had been disobeyed by the returning exiles, and required a remedy in order to have God's favor upon them as they worked to restore the city of Jerusalem. At the encouragement of the princes of the people, (Ezra 9:1-2), and after Ezra and the people had wept and confessed this sin before God, Ezra instituted a program that took a couple of months to put away all the strange wives from among the people of Israel.

The prophecy of Zechariah 5 and the woman in the basket with the lead weight upon it is a representation of this two-month process of ridding Israel of the corrupting influence of foreign wives in their midst. The lone woman in the basket is meant to be a representation of the entire group of foreign wives that were put away. "THIS IS WICKEDNESS" was God's pronouncement of the Israelite men's sinful unions with these foreign women. The lead weight upon the mouth of the basket meant that there was no escape from this pronouncement of wickedness upon them by God; there were no exceptions - ALL these women (even the ones with children by their spouses) had to leave the nation and their false unions with Israelite husbands.

The two women with the wind in their wings that lifted this basket up from the earth probably represented the escort these foreign ex-wives had out of the land of Israel, all the way back to the land of Babylon/ Shinar where they must have originated - to be "established, and set there upon her own base" (Zech. 5:11). Being lifted up off the land symbolized that they were not to have any further corrupting contact with the land of Israel after their separation.

As for the flying "roll", or "scroll", I find a more fitting description of it in the LXX where it calls it a flying "SICKLE". This makes more sense, for the SICKLE to "cut off" thieves on one side of it, and to "cut off" those who swear false oaths on the other side of it (Zech. 5:3-4). A roll or a scroll can't CUT anything. A sickle also represents a harvesting image, where something is cut down, gathered, bundled up, and taken away. This is similar to the sickle harvests in Rev. 14:14-20, as well as the foreign wives being gathered together in a group and taken out of the land of Israel - symbolically being put in a basket that would have ordinarily held harvested grain. The curse of this sickle of judgment would "go forth over the face of the whole earth" (ge - the post-exilic land of Israel) as part of the purifying process that God performed on the people of the exile who returned after the Babylonian captivity.

Note in particular the exact offenses that are to be judged by the "curse" of this sickle: STEALING, and SWEARING FALSE OATHS. As Steve mentioned in his lecture, there are other offenses more egregious than these two listed sins against God. So why were these two particular sins emphasized in Zechariah? Go to Malachi, and you will find that these are the two sins that are highlighted for the Israelites during this period of restoration after the Babylonian exile. God is essentially scolding them for bringing lame and sick offerings to him, "...But cursed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and voweth" (an oath) "and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing:" (Mal. 1:14). Also Malachi 3:8-9, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me." (the stealing of Zechariah 5:3) "But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse" (the prophesied Zech. 5:3 curse) "for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation."

In Malachi, God is also calling the Israelites on the carpet for their marriages to foreign wives which were done in a breach of covenant (the false oaths of Zechariah 5) against their first marriages with women of their youth from their own nation. This is found in Malachi 2:11-15, where God specifically targets the PRIESTS (Mal. 2:1) for breaking this command against marrying foreign wives. Ezra 9:2 admitted that "the hand of the princes and rulers hath been CHIEF in this trespass" of marrying foreign wives. This was particularly bad, because they were the ones who were supposed to be upholding the standard of purity as an example for the entire nation. God pronounces "a curse upon you" (Mal. 2:2), if the priests will not heed His reproof. (Mal. 2:11-12), "Judah hath dealt treacherously" (the false oaths of Zech.5), "and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. The Lord will cut off" (with the Zechariah sickle) "the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar" (the "princes and rulers" that had chiefly offended) "out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts."

So all of this rather cryptic language in Zechariah is meant to prophesy of events that would soon take place during a post-exilic return period in Israel approximately 50 years or more down the road from when Zechariah first wrote it down. God intended to revive His worship and His temple in the nation of Israel during that time, (the mid-millennium temple Zerubbabel would build according to the blueprints in Ezekiel 40-48). To accomplish this, certain corrections of the people's lifestyles and attitudes had to change in order for Him to be able to bless them.

Post Reply

Return to “Major and Minor Prophets”